Eric Kennington served as a Private in the 13th Territorial battalion of the London Regiment, popularly known as ‘The Kensingtons’, from 1914 until June 1915. In early November 1914, after three months of basic training, the battalion was rushed to the front-line in France into bitterly cold trenches about three miles in front of the village of Laventie in the valley of the River Lys. By the end of the month, some 28 of the battalion's men were killed and wounded from the German shelling and sniping. In June 1915, having been honourably discharged from the Army earlier that year, Kennington set to work on his masterpiece The Kensingtons at Laventie, which, as Jonathan Black explains: 'made him famous overnight when exhibited at the Goupil Gallery towards the end of April 1916. This was his deliberately iconic and heroicising tribute to his comrades' (J. Black, The Graphic Art of Eric Kennington, London, 2001, p. 3). The present work depicts Private Todd, known amongst the platoon as ‘Sweeny’, and is a sketch for the painting which now hangs in the Imperial War Museum.